Holiday Volunteering Opportunities for Families
The holidays are a great time to introduce kids to volunteering. Here are some ways to get them involved.
’Tis the season for giving! Donating money is almost always appreciated, but during the hustle and bustle, time is a precious commodity. Volunteering time makes us feel good about ourselves, true, but it also benefits the people in our communities who need it most. Instilling a charitable spirit in your child can be difficult — but we found some child-friendly volunteering opportunities to get them started.
Cuddle My Kids
Cuddle My Kids is an amazing non-profit that specializes in helping families that are currently caring for cancer patients as well as supporting families that recently lost someone to cancer. They offer in-home and out-of-home programs which provide aid varying from simple grocery shopping to massage therapy. Cuddle My Kids runs with the help of dedicated and passionate volunteers. To find out how you and your kids can help, visit their volunteer page here.
Cradles to Crayons
There are so many children in the greater Philadelphia area who don’t have access to simple pleasures that other children might take for granted. Cradles to Crayons seeks to give disadvantaged youths in the area “KidPacks” with useful day-to-day items they need. Any child over the age of 6 can volunteer at this wonderful organization! Learn how here.
Plaid Pajamas Project
The Plaid Pajamas Project seeks to get local children bundled up this cold season in comfortable, warm, and clean pajamas donated from generous families and children in the area. While predominantly donation-based, you can help this project by hosting a pajama-drive, organizing a sorting-and-wrapping party, or simply donating gift cards like GapCash, Kohl’s Cash, and other small-balance gift cards to buy pajamas for the project.
Pals for Life
Therapy pets (dogs, cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs, oh my!) not only bring happiness to hospital patients, college students, and senior center residents, but to the volunteers that work with them, too! If your kids are 12 or older, they can volunteer with Pals for Life in Wayne. Aside from helping with the organization’s regular programs at local institutions, they can team up with friends and start a community project for collecting pet food and pet supply donations. If you have a young pet, your pet could even pass the test and become a Pals for Life therapy pet.
Ardmore Food Pantry
Food insecurity is a problem that can be addressed locally, and the Ardmore Food Pantry works to address it in Lower Merion. By holding a food drive or volunteering during the Food Pantry’s regular Monday hours, your family can contribute to the wellness of another family.
MANNA provides food and counseling to direly ill patients year-round — but the holidays are a great time to get involved and help patients in the greater Philadelphia area. There are volunteer opportunities to help cook meals (you must be over 14 to help in the kitchen), deliver meals to patients, prep the kitchen, and more. To learn more, see MANNA’s page.
Main Line Youth Alliance
For some LGBT youths who may be shunned by their families for their expression, the holidays may not be the happiest of times. The Main Line Youth Alliance helps LGBT+ youth with the struggle of transition and other difficult life moments by offering a safe space for youths to speak their minds and have their voices heard. They run entirely on donations and help from adult volunteers like you. They need volunteers who can assist with grant writing, chaperoning, and activity assistance. To learn more, see their volunteer page.
Aside from spending time volunteering, consider donating money or goods to reputable non-profit groups this season. Try one of these, and explain the organization to your kids when you donate!
Jaime Metzger contributed reporting to this article.
Photograph courtesy of MANNA.